“Naeza lipa na M-PESA?” ~ “Can I pay for that using M-PESA?”
We’ve all heard and used that particular phrase like everywhere we go. Whether it’s paying for your cab ride, your nduthi guy, your shopping at the supermarket, using M-PESA has become a way of life for most of us.
The well-known mobile money platform has continued to give multiple reasons for Kenyans to embrace financial inclusion by offering simplicity in its use, efficiency, security and traceability for its customers whenever and wherever they go.
Safety and security
We all know that heart wrenching feeling you get when you’re carrying loads of cash in your pocket or your bag? Or that sinking feeling you have when you’ve just left the ATM. Even if you’d just gone in to withdraw 200 bob for fare, there’s this gripping sense that you’re being followed.
Now imagine this all this paranoia – and you’re drunk.
This was exactly how Charles felt whenever he went out. Considering you have to carry cash for drinks, a cab or fuel and some extra emergency money, carrying cash whenever he went out was honestly an extreme sport, which is exactly why he moved to going cashless and using M-PESA wherever he went.
And it’s not only when he’s going out; it’s also when he’s going home late at night from the office, when he’s travelling, when he’s walking around town, he has M-PESA wherever he goes. This however doesn’t discredit the fact that he doesn’t have any cash in his pocket, but for big wads of money, he leaves it on M-PESA.
Whenever and wherever
When the winners of the Tunukiwa promotion were announced, one of the stories of the winners struck me. Ramadhan Kongoyo, a 26-year old security guard and father of two who could not join University due to lack of school fees planned to use the money to further his studies and open the first M-PESA agent in his area. This would reduce the distance customers walk to transact on M-PESA to less than a kilometre.
Another M-PESA customer Makau, praises the benefits of having the financial service in his pocket. Before this, his son would only send money via a driver. You know how we used to do it; put money in an envelope and hope that the driver is trustworthy guy and that your cash will actually get there? We don’t need to do that anymore and that’s something he’s grateful for.
Cash hasn’t disappeared from our everyday life although innovation is already working towards replacing physical money with wireless payments systems via computers and mobile phones.
Why a cashless life?
In this case, I believe less is more. Going cashless reduces crime rates significantly. When people stop handling physical cash as much, the rate of crimes like theft, extortion, and corruption decline significantly. Even when your phone is stolen or lost, you’re assured that your money is safe as long as you don’t share your M-PESA pin with anyone.
Physical cash is also bulky, so a cashless society comes with unmatched convenience. You can carry around as much money as you want and transact hassle freely.
Mobile money has made it possible to provide financial services to people who wouldn’t otherwise have access. I really love the fact that such platforms can allow everyone to send and receive money as well as borrow loans and save cash they can have in their hands in minutes.Increased access to financial services like loans to people who didn’t have access automatically reduces poverty. Such individuals wouldn’t have access to financial services were it not for cashless systems.
Does it sound to good to be true?
The pros are numerous, but naturally, there are also some who rally for cash because its what we know, and it’s something tangible, we can see it. Also, some of the things we use in our day-to-day schedules can’t be paid via M-PESA. Stuff like milk, bread, vegetables, fare etc still require cash on hand transactions.
Living without physical money is something we are already getting used to. And with cryptocurrency and various online payments, time will tell if we end up moving away from using physical money altogether.